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  • Seven Affairs of Charity

    Artist:
    Francken, Frans, II. 1581-1642
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    68,5x110,5 cm

Francken, Frans, II. 1581-1642

Seven Affairs of Charity

Flanders, Circa 1617

In St Matthew's Gospel (25:35-36) Christ addresses the righteous and speaks of six acts of charity: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and visiting those in prison. The seventh - burying the dead - is not mentioned there, but depictions of that particular act of charity were very common in the later Middle Ages, when plague raged in Europe. In his numerous works on this theme Frans Francken each time came up with a new variation of its component episodes. Thus, in the foreground of the Hermitage painting we find a scene of the "distribution of loaves", illustrating the first of the acts of charity. In the left-hand part of the composition a rich man is shown sharing his clothing with paupers on one covered terrace and relatives visiting a sick person on another. The artist found peculiar architectural niches for almost all the acts of charity: for example, in the scene of "visiting a prisoner" (on the right in the middle ground), the figure of the convict can be seen in the window of a prison tower. Beneath an architectural awning, in the depths on the left, we find a hospitable owner inviting pilgrims to his house. The only exceptions are the two scenes of "quenching thirst" (on the right in the middle ground) and "burying the dead" (in the depths of the painting). They are set in a more open space against the background of a cathedral and seem enclosed within frames of architectural forms.

Title:

Seven Affairs of Charity

Place:

Date:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

68,5x110,5 cm

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-395

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